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January 11, 2007

Cisco iSues Over Apple iPhone Brand Name

iPhone-vs-iPhone.gifCisco has filed a lawsuit against Apple for trademark infringement on the Apple iPhone brand name, reported Engadget yesterday, less than a day after we were all assured that the two companies would "play nice" over the name. Now Cisco has stopped playing nice and is playing hardball.

The Guardian has an interesting post up that deconstructs the argument, noting that the name is sort of Cisco's and sort of Apple's. If this does go to court, Apple seems to believe that its trademark filings are for a different gadget.

As with anything related to Apple, conspiracy theories abound. The one of the day is from a user on Blogging Stocks who thinks that Apple will float on the iPhone brand name until June and then switch to Apple Phone (eg Apple TV) to not only foil Cisco but also to steal the company's association with the iPhone name.

Whether or not Apple is using the niceties of the law to build itself into the iPhone name, it is well worth noting the vitriol we are seeing on Engadget about this story being spewed at Apple from all corners. Comments like these:


  • “Apple deserves to lose”

  • “They should just change the name to iFone”

  • “I hope Apple loses"

  • “Apple goes around suing other companies for having the word 'pod' in their products”

As well as support of Apple, or promoting the idea of an Apple Phone:


  • “How about apple just goes with "Apple (symbol) phone"? i mean, they already did that with iTV, changing it to "apple tv". Then, there will be more name recognition for the newly branded 'Apple, Inc.'”

Marklaw_Logo.gifThe MarkLaw.com site does a nice job of summarizing the Lanham Act. There are a few key points in the Lanham Act that seem to suggest that Apple will have an uphill battle convincing the courts that its iPhone and the Linksys (acquired by Cisco) iPhone can co-exist without confusion.

Some of the legal tests for the liklihood of confusion are:


  • Do the trademarks compete with one another?

  • Will the products be marketed in the same stores or channels of distribution?

  • Do the Apple and Linksys products access overlapping customer bases?

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Posted by William Lozito at January 11, 2007 9:19 AM
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